How to be a tool: Lesson 1.


I’m sure some of you will disagree but the pettiness of this diatribe is frankly laugh out loudable.

Scottish Conservatives transport spokesman Jamie Greene said:

“Motorists and commuters must be dismayed. “This SNP government opened the bridge with a £1.5m celebration party and used it as a symbol of their stewardship of the country.

All the while they knew that there were problems with the road surface, that these problems would have to be fixed and the bridge would have to be closed shortly after opening it. 

At no point were road users, whose daily lives are now thrown into disarray, informed that there were impending closures.

To make matters worse, we now know that there are potentially more closures to come. 

Commuters just wanted a bridge that would get them to work on time. 
“There are some serious questions to be answered as to how shoddy workmanship passed quality control checks prior to opening in the first place, whether or not these errors were as a result of pressure to speed up the works and whether there was any political pressure on the contractors to open despite ministers being made aware of potential faults and snags. 

It is abundantly clear the SNP was far more preoccupied with spending taxpayers money on party planning than actually delivering a vital infrastructure development fit for purpose from day one. 

This bridge fiasco is absolutely symbolic of a feckless SNP government which thrives on self-congratulatory indulgence at the expense of the tax-paying public.” Scottish Labour transport spokesman Neil Bibby said:

Transport Scotland has known about these faults for months and they have chosen to keep that information from the public.

Road users found out about carriageway closures at the last minute and officials have confirmed there are more closures to come.

The SNP transport minister must give a full explanation and account for his handling of the project.

Either the SNP knew about this fault and choose to keep it quiet or they didn’t, which demonstrates yet again their gross mismanagement of major infrastructure projects.”

2017. Songs I like (a lot).

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Well…technology has finally overtaken me.

When I went to compile my best of the year CD I realised I had only bought four contributing albums. Spotify has won the day.  So, no posting out CD’s any more instead you’ll have to make do with a playlist. Doesn’t impact on the quality of the compositions though.

I start with a song from the early 70’s that I discovered (probably on 6 Music) and have played the album it comes from all year round called Right on Fire by Voices of East Harlem.

The album is gold.

There’s a few old favourites like Arcade Fire (brilliant at Primavera), Aimee Mann (an incredible return to form) Penguin Cafe, Laura Marling, The National, Courtney Barnett (with Kurt Vile), LCD Soundsystem and Alt J
And there’s a slew of great new discoveries, like the incredible 13 minute closer by Kamasi Washington, IDLES (seeing them in May next year), King Gizzard (also brilliant at Primavera), Loyle Carner (who should have won the Mercury Prize), and This is the Kit (playing in January in Scotland).
I hope you enjoy it.

Battle of the Sexes: Movie review.


Whilst Emma Stone puts down her marker for a possible third Oscar nomination the film as a whole left me slightly cold.  But then, when did you last see a GREAT tennis movie.  That’s right.  You didn’t.

But this potentially offered more because it appeared multi layered and could have been more nuanced than it is.

It tackles two themes simultaneously.  First, Billie Jean King’s lesbian relationship with her hairdresser Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) that eventually ended in controversy as she was publicly outed by her lover when they split in 1981.  Throughout King remained married to her first love Larry (played sympathetically but a little limply by Austin Stowell).  This is handled very tastefully and, for me, was the better part of the whole.

Second, and the source of the title, the movie explores sexism in the women’s tennis game that led to her breaking away from the WTA and its sexist president, Jack Kramer (in an unconvincing performance by Bill Pullman), and taking on a challenge billed as THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES with 55 year old ex tennis champion and self proclaimed Male Chauvinist, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell).

I disliked Carell’s part greatly, not because he didn’t perform it well but that it is written to make him out to be a complete idiot (which no doubt he was).  He becomes a caricature of himself quickly and I neither liked nor disliked him (I was annoyed by him though).  It all makes for a strange mix of comedy, politics, sexuality and revolt.

And the revolt was all too gentlemanly for me – despite the subject matter and the ire it must have stirred nobody really ever loses the plot and so the film lacks edge and dramatic tension.

What’s more, it’s 30 minutes too long and the overwrought soundtrack (Nicholas Britell – it really is a shocker) is over-pervasive and just plain annoying.

Emma Stone rarely puts a foot wrong in my view and at times you really do think BJK is on screen.  That part, and the general 70’s styling of the movie, is excellent but it’s ponderously directed and although the final shoot out between BJK and Riggs has an element of tension we all know the outcome and Britell’s pomp and circumstance was gradually doing my nut in.

Just because you loved Little Miss Sunshine it does not follow that you will love this.


European City of Culture. Another example of the foolish implications of Brexit.


I know a number of people who poured their hearts and souls into Dundee’s bid to become the UK’s contender for European City of Culture 2023.  I don’t know anyone in Leeds, Nottingham, Milton Keynes or Belfast/Derry who did the same, but I bet they too broke their backs and, in some cases, their bank accounts.

But guess what, The EU has decided that the UK has essentially null and voided its application because it has elected to leave Europe’s governing body.

What would I do if I was the European arbiter of this situation?  Exactly the same.  Although I would have had the grace to declare the UK null and void before the process began.  (Now, I appreciate that wasn’t possible as the bids were opened in 2014. But upon declaration of the UK’s intention to leave the EU the implications should have been stated, not the week the entries went in.)

And all those research scientists.  Do they really think they’ll now get those grant applications in the light of this decision?

Sunderland got lucky when Nissan stamped its feet about the Brexit decision and the UK Govt stumped up a ton of dosh to pacify them.  Shame the silly fuckers voted to leave without thinking about the possible consequences for one of their biggest employers.

The UK is a global laughing stock and yet Theresa May marches on regardless. (I have to say JC is not covering himself in glory on this one either.)

In previous protestations I have blamed the Tories for this fiasco and I still do because they are carrying the torch for this and refusing the reconsider, or even listen.  To their own back benches if not the country.

Please dear readers, can we start a revolution?

Why are there no public demonstrations about the utter fuckwittery of this arrogant posturing?





A new venture. Spotted by Locals; Edinburgh.

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Look out for my impending travel writing.  I’ve just been interviewed by Bart and Sanne who run Spotted by Locals.  A travel app and website, created in 2008 and reaching over 60 cities, that invites a small group of writers to share their insights into their HOME city.

It’s a great idea because you get insights into cities all over the world from a non commercial perspective and outside of the usual historical or just plain obvious sights.

Anyway there will be five Edinburgh writers when I start.  Looking forward to it.  If anyone has any interesting spots for me to check out do please let me know and I’ll go investigate.